Here Are the Most Effective Ads of 2014 (So Far)

As it turns out, a lot of people found they had dust in their eyes after sitting through Budweiser's poetic tale of star-crossed companions in its "Puppy Love" Super Bowl spot. That mega-hit was challenged only in a new ranking by Budweiser's other Super Bowl spot, which gave a soldier a hero's welcome home.

A handful of other brands—including Google, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, Hyundai, Dick's Sporting Goods, TGI Friday's and Ore-Ida—were behind some of the other top ads of 2014 so far, according to analytics firm Ace Metrix. These first few months of 2014 included four of the largest TV audiences advertisers will have access to all year. 

Ace Metrix CEO Peter Daboll said that advertisers used their ads during these months to "demonstrate their storytelling prowess" and sought to "introduce us to the brand in a new way." Ace Metrix also found that viewers' attention spans are longer than you would think, with 60-second commercials winning out in terms of emotional impact.

This was evident in Bud's "Puppy Love" spot, which took an unusual tack for a beer brand, shunning boozy simplistic aspirational ads for an inspirational spot that didn't talk about alcohol at all. That turned out to be a great idea.

The company scores ads two ways: by category average and with its "Ace Score," which is a measure of ad creative effectiveness based on viewer reaction to national TV ads. 

Check out the winners:

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The Top 5 Ads of the First Quarter (By Category Average)

1) Budweiser, 'Puppy Love'

This was the highest-rated ad by category average, with a score 39.1 percent above the beverage category norm, and an emotional index rating of 83, indicating that it "generated positive emotional engagement from consumers," Ace Metrix said.

2) Budweiser, 'Hero's Welcome'

This ad featured a single U.S. serviceman, Lt. Chuck Nadd, receiving a surprise hero's welcome home—from Bud and his entire town of Winter Park, Fla. Ace Metrix found consumers had a strong emotional connection to the spot due to its real-life soldier hero and the uplifting groundswell of community support. 

3) Google, 'Tonight'

This Oscars-appropriate commercial highlighted film legends of today and yesterday, resonating with audiences with cinema on the brain.

4) Google, 'We Are All Storytellers'

With a video that celebrates everyone who's ever had an idea, picked up a camera or searched for a way to bring their story to life, Google found a way to speak to consumers on a personal, individual level.

5) Dick's Sporting Goods, 'Sports Matter'

This campaign from Dick's—with multiple videos for different sports—uses stats to show how budget cuts are killing school sports programs, and implores viewers to donate to the retailer's foundation, which intends to save such struggling programs.

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The Top 5 Ads of the First Quarter (By Ace Score)

1) Microsoft, 'Empowering'

This Super Bowl ad about the wonders of technology was a big hit, and offered viewers extended documentary cuts with some of the inspiring individuals featured within.

2) Hyundai, 'Dad's Sixth Sense'

This Super Bowl spot was all about slapstick humor, as a father saves his son from physical harm through the years—although when it comes time to learn how to drive, it's the 2015 Hyundai Genesis that takes care of him the best.

3) TGI Friday's, 'New Burgers'

Food porn from restaurant chain TGI Friday's? Yes.

4) Ore-Ida, 'Fresh Take on French Fries' This spot features a cute kid and a return to the basics, and you loved it. It had the highest emotional connection score of any food staple.

5) Procter & Gamble, 'Thank You, Mom'

This juggernaut of a campaign shows the setbacks along the way to Olympic greatness while highlighting moms' roles in encouraging personal growth and sticktoitiveness in the face of failure. It resonated with anyone who ever fell, got up, faced adversity, needed their mom, or is a mom—so, just about everyone, especially the longer form version.